Armed tribesmen have freed the head of a Saudi hospital in Yemen hours after abducting him on Monday, after receiving assurances about their demand for the release of detained kinsmen, a Yemeni official said.

"Tribal negotiators gave the kidnappers a written pledge to work towards the release of the detained tribe members," the government official told Reuters on Monday.

"It is unclear whether any of those whose release the kidnappers demanded are militants," he said.

Gunmen had reportedly abducted Dhafer al Shahrani, a Saudi citizen who runs the Saudi-funded al Salam hospital in the province of Saada, in northern Yemen.

Local officials had earlier said the men were held in Saudi Arabia and Yemen for their links to al Qaeda.

It was not immediately clear if any ransom was paid for the release al-Shahrani.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where hostages are often used by tribesmen to press their demands on authorities.

In September, al Qaeda's regional Yemen-based wing, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), claimed the kidnapping of a senior intelligence official in Saada and demanded the release of two imprisoned militants.

AQAP jumped to the forefront of global security concerns after it claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to mail two parcel bombs from Yemen to the United States last month.

Source: Reuters